Table of Contents
Silver Streak Travel Trailer
From 1946 to 1948, the Curtiss-Wright airplane engine manufacturer produced trailer coaches. In 1949, the company sold the design rights to Silver Streak partners Kenny Neptune, James “Pat” Patterson, and Frank Polito. In the 1957, Neptune and Polito bought out their partner Patterson. Patterson then founded the Streamline Trailer Mfg. Co.
This coach is a variation of an early Wally Byam design, (the father of the Airstream), which he came up with while working for airplane engine manufacturer Curtiss-Wright from 1937 through 1947. Just before leaving to re-form the Airstream Company which, he's actually begun in 1931. Byam was a major influence in the design of the 1946-1948 Curtis-Wright Clipper who, for some unknown reason, dropped the last “s” in the Curtiss name for their trailer coach production. However, in 1949 Curtiss-Wright sold the rights to the design to three partners by the name of Frank Polito, James Patterson and Kenny Neptune who formed the Silver Streak Trailer Company and, who then simply renamed the coach the Silver Streak Clipper. After reshaping the front and rear Plexiglas windows in 1950, front and rear glass windows that actually opened became an option in late 1953. (In 1957 Pat Patterson left Silver Streak, and along with dealer Harry Lovett, formed the Streamline Trailer Co.)
Ad for the first Silver Streak Clipper in 1949
Silver Streak Trailer Company in El Monte California Originally located at 1166 Chico St. and later moved to 2100 block of Chico St.
A BRIEF SILVER STREAK HISTORY
Two men, Frank Polito and Kenny Neptune, each of whom had previously worked for McDonald Douglas Corp, founded the Silver Streak Trailer Co. in approximately 1948. The first trailer was delivered in 1949. The factory was in South El Monte, CA. In 1986 another company wanted to buy the land the factory was sitting on. Polito and Neptune sold the land. At the time that Pollito and Neptune sold the land the factory General Manager was Rolf Zushlag. The partners had hired Zushlag from Airstream in 1978. Zushlag made a deal with the two partners for patterns and all machinery. He stayed at the South El Monte site for 12 to 14 months and then found a place in Chino, CA. There were no l987 models manufactured due to the move. Zushlag continued building custom built Silver Streaks until 1997. Both founders are still alive and live in the Los Angeles area. Mr. Zushlag, after closing the factory, is still active in the Los Angeles area in other business activities.
The company came out with the Sterling series trailers in 1985. This trailer had black trim and the gold trimmed trailer was discontinued. Silver Streak never built over 6 trailers per week. There was a national Silver Streak organization from 1968 to 1997. It was officially disbanded at the St. George, UT National rally when only 28 trailers showed up. There is still a Houston area club and they are planning a Regional rally at Burnett, TX between San Antonio and Kerrville this year on May 6, 2000.
According to Mr. Ashby, who has refurbished and sold over 110 Silver Streaks, it is his opinion the Silver Streak is a far better trailer than the Airstream, based on overall construction and a substantially stronger frame. In addition, unlike the Airstream construction, the Silver Streak skin was built right on the trailer frames. All internal structures and appliances were then placed within the shell through the entry.
The vents on the side of the trailers were placed there as “weep” holes. They resulted in condensation inside the trailer in very cold climates. Mr. Ashby recommends caulking them closed. Mr. Ashby has numerous Silver Streak parts including Hadco axles and grease seals and aluminum segments for the front and rear of some models.
No shop manuals or parts manuals were ever developed by the Silver Streak Co. The only manuals that were developed were the Silver Streak Owners Manuals provided with new trailers.
Sent to us by kyle morrison - firstname.lastname@example.org
S/S moved to Chino, Ca in 1987, as it was “purchased” by Rolf Zuschlag around that time. I was first hired as a welder, but the only production person that followed the move to Chino quit and that left me as the sole employee to manufactor, what was supposed to be the last S/S to be made. I managed to finish the trailer, a 26' unit that was pulled by a VW Thing. The unit was featured in an issue of RV World. (I think that's the magazine) The unit was dragged all over Mexico by the Thing. We were true experts on saving weight and maximizing storage space. Incidentally, that unit was ordered by the same person that eventually ordered and recieved the very last unit built in 1995.
I became production supervisor almost as soon as I started working there, and eventually took over the service dept. as well. In the late fall of '87 Rolf proposed that with a new design we might start real production again. I agreed to redesign and make all new jigs, patterns,production proceeders, My Godness, I remade everthing. Granted though, I made more $ in the redesigning and manufactor of the first prototype than at any other time with the company. The new Sterling was as slick as could get, and had many features that Argosy and Airstream copied from me. I mean me in that most all these features were created by me and only me.
I don't have any of the brochures left of the new Sterling Series, but I may be able to direct you a source, and quite possibly some of our old business cards, as well as pictures of some special units,(goverment, police,5th wheels, ambulances,a prototype pick-up topper, lot's of oddities) We actually made a 44' unit once.
I left the company in '95 due to impossible to resolve issues between myself and the owner. I could also see that the company was soon to fail because outside influences were abound. We were out of enough money to keep the place alive, and no decent financial proposals were being offered. I didn't enjoy leaving something that I had literally put together, but the time had come.
As it stands now, I am the last person alive that can build or repair any S/S ever made, along with the Streamlines,(we'd get them in for service alot, mostly because we had the only .032 double anodized alum. skin anywhere) Here's an odd one… S/S had a small part in the first Jurassic Park movie. Starr Waggons (Lyle Waggoner) sent a unit to Hawaiii to be used in the very first part of the film. On the way out there, a hurricane sank the ship that was carrying the entrance door that went with the chopped-up unit. I got a call from Lyle telling me that he needed a next day replacement for the door. Since I was the only one that knew how to make it I charged him around $800 for the door. It's in the movie, in the scene where the people go into the trailer and open a bottle of wine.
I'm sure that if your site was more pronounced, like in a travel trailer magazine, you would get many more followers. That would mean more fotos, stories and copys of the original brochures ,specs,pricing, and if your lucky an original copy of the 'lifetime guarantee' We did, for the most part, even though not written down, continue the guarantee for structurally related issues.
I would love to start building S'Ss again, but the economy prohibits such dreaming.
Feel free to ask me anything about Silver Streak as I most likely have the answers.
P.S.: If the old man in Texas didn't die yet or if someone took over his repair business, there may be some old parts still out there. I'll try to remember how to find him.
by Kyle Morrison email@example.com
- Clipper 18 and 22 ft.
- Jet 19 ft.
- Sabre 17 ft.
- Sabre 19 ft.
- Continental Supreme 28 ft.
- Continental Supreme 34 ft.
- Atlas Twin Continental 27 ft (1970)
- Deluxe Atlas
- SS210 21 ft. (1980-?)
- Prince 18 ft. (1969)
- Continental Atlas 22 ft. (1968)
- Very little wood was used on the interiors
- Dinette at front of the coach
- Dixie stove and Marvel refrigerator
- Dometic fridge, Magic Chef stove, Duo Therm AC (1968)
- Princess stove (turquoise) in my 68 Silver Streak Sabre. Matching turq. fridge.
- Pipe frame so very light weight trailer, about 2800 lbs.
- Electric refrigerator option
- Standard venetian blinds and drapes
- Painted interior
- 1953 SS Clipper, non-restored, interior gutted, sold on eBay in October 2006 for $2500.
- 1974 Silver Streak Continental Rocket 28 foot (model 2800) with “moisture problems” and unknow interior condition, sold on eBay in Oct 2006 for $1250.
- Birchwood Beauties Vintage Trailer Coach Co. offered a nice 1954 SS Clipper in Fall 2006 for $5000 http://www.birchwoodbeauties.com/pages/54clipper-corning.html
- 1971 Silver Streak Sabre in great running condition and maintained by its former owners, with the exception of the floor furnace and small dent on back side, sold on craigslist in November 2010 for $3,200. Told it will be on the road for about a year then settled for a refurbished project.
1953 Silver Streak Clipper 22'
1964 SS Sabre 17 Ft
1980 SS210 21 Ft
Brian & Melissa Morrow 1964 Silverstreak Sabre 19' and a 1957 Silverstreak Jet 19' email firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew and alicia keller drewkeller email@example.com 1974 continental 24'
- Personal page about a Silver Streak Continental, including photos from a 1970's brochure: http://www.lyalls.net/devoid/sstreak.html
- Tom Patterson's Silver Streak web site: http://tompatterson.com/Silverstreak/Silverstreak.php
- Birchwood Beauties Vintage Trailer Coach Co.: http://www.birchwoodbeauties.com/pages/54clipper-corning.html
- Silver Streak Trailer Club, 226 Grand Ave. #207, Long Beach, CA 90803, 310-433-0539